Picture the scene, you’re on a busy commuter train and the person opposite you suddenly starts clutching at their chest, their breathing becomes rapid and their skin turns an ashen shade of grey. Would you know what’s wrong? And would you know what to do? This person is having a heart attack… they could die. Someone needs to act, and act fast to assist them and potentially save their life.
It is for this very reason, that I have just completed a 3 day Emergency First Aid course with Green Cross Training. The course was paid for by my employer, and means I am now a first aider at work. But the potential benefit runs deep, and could be felt at any moment. Whether that is on a commute, at a family event, or on indeed on a boat on the Clipper Race – which was another major motivation for undertaking this training. The skills learnt, are life skills.
3 days seems a lot, but it simply meant we covered a lot! From toddler and baby CPR, through to strokes, burns, broken bones, amputations, chemical inhalation, panic attacks, asthma, and just about everything in between. This course was thorough, broad and at times grim.
On the Clipper Race most boats suffer injuries, whether that be broken ribs, head injuries, or minor cuts. There was even a heart attack on the last edition. And now, I am thankful that I would know what to do in these situations. I would be able to keep calm, and assist or even lead in dealing with the medical side of these incidents if I needed to.
I have previously had first aid training as part of becoming a rescue diver many years ago, but this was an excellent refresher and was much more in depth. The classroom setting was a bit dark and dingy, but the content was highly engaging. With stories being told by my training peers of major incidents they’ve had to deal with over the years.
There were 8 of us on the training, and 5 of those worked in Tesco’s stores. They described how one customer collapsed and died in store, another took an overdose, someone else had an epileptic fit, and so it went on and on. They were un-phased and professional, they had real life experience of carrying out CPR and dealing with emergencies. It is just part of their day job, hundreds of feet pass through the store doors each day, each of those is a potential casualty and they are ever prepared, I was very impressed.
One fun part of the course was the role playing – half the class would leave the room, and the other half would enact a scene. The half that had left had to return, work out what had happened and deal with it. We had everything from choking, to electrocution, to a hand amputation, a finger amputation, and perhaps the most difficult, a ‘deaf’ person that was having a heart attack!
The toddler and baby CPR hit home to everyone, holding a fragile doll and applying 2 finger CPR, we all hope that that is a skill we never have to use. Other elements of the course hit home to each individual for their own reasons, for me it was talking about strokes and seizures – a good friend suffered a stroke 2 years ago and so I listened intently to this, learning exactly what to do, all too aware of the consequences of a stroke. And seizures also struck a chord, as two of my children suffer with shock seizures, and I know how frightening this experience can be for witnesses.
Having now completed this training, I believe more than ever that first aid should be taught in schools, so everyone is equipped with some of these basic skills – even if it is just CPR and de-fibrillation that is taught. Everyone should have that basic level. I’m certainly pleased I’ve done the 3 day first aid course, and feel confident and prepared to help others as and when needed, which hopefully isn’t any time soon.